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Humane Solutions for Controlling Facility Pests

Proactive pest control is a must-have for maintaining facility cleanliness, safety, and reputation. Yet some common solutions, including traps or fumigation, use chemicals or leave behind dead or dying animals in your facility. This article offers humane pest control solutions for your food warehouse, plant, or facility.

Rodents, Insects, and Birds, Oh My!

For most, the term “pest control,” conjures up an image of insects and rodents. These creatures are responsible for carrying diseases and pathogens capable of having a serious impact on safe, sanitary food production and warehousing. However, pest birds, like pigeons, blackbirds, sparrows, and crows, can also create major problems for facility management.

Birds must be kept out of food facilities. They carry unwelcome guests, like mites, fleas, and ticks and can transmit dozens of diseases, including Listeria, Meningitis, and Salmonella. In 2007 a Salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 700 people and killed nine was traced to unsanitary food plant conditions that included accumulated bird droppings.

Our feathered friends also take a toll on valuable equipment investments as well; droppings have a corrosive effect, causing irreversible damage on surface areas. Birds nest in facades, on roofs, and even in ventilation systems, which triggers destruction that eats into budgets. In some infestations, pest bird droppings create a slip-and-fall accident risk that could impact the well being of employees and guests, as well as increase company liability.

Not only do bird droppings pose a serious risk, but flocks can also be incredibly unsightly. Large flocks that congregate around food warehouses or production plants create noisy, unpleasant environments for employees and nearby residents. Flock elimination can improve a facility’s food-focused environment and offer a better experience for customers.

Issues with Poisons, Fogs, and Traps

Decision-makers have plenty of options when formulating a pest management plan that meets audit requirements. Solutions like fumigation and fogging use harsh chemicals, and often require the shutdown of the treatment area, which translates to loss of money and productivity. In addition, such solutions are less effective as a long-term solution for keeping critters out of food facilities.

Rodenticides can also pose an issue for facilities. Government directives limit their use in many areas around food processing facilities. Rodenticides and other poisons can certainly kill pests, but they also kill non-target animals, like owls and cats, that naturally prey on pest animals. In most cases, poison-based pest solutions are very cruel since they work slowly, causing an animal to suffer for several days.

Traps and glue boards are no more humane. These control methods are indiscriminate, catching anything that comes in contact with them—even animal urine and feces—creating unsanitary conditions. Something else to consider is that traps and boards also require maintenance, which means staff members must handle and dispose of live or deceased animals.

Traditional pest control methods, like those mentioned above, aren’t the best options for the animals or the environment. However, modern trends toward more humane pest control technology can remove pests permanently with fewer complications.

Cost-Effective and Eco-Friendly

It’s important to maintain an impeccably clean food facility, but traditional pest control methods aren’t always the best options. Humane deterrents are a smart, cost-effective, and efficient way to keep warehouses and other food facilities free from all varieties of pests.

The concept behind green pest solutions is simple: scare pest animals away and condition them not to return. These methods do not harm or physically traumatize animals.

Humane solutions are safer for people, too. They’re non-toxic to employees and guests, as well as any domestic or non-target animals that might come in contact with them. The result is facility staff members can place them virtually anywhere pest birds and animals frequent.

Humane pest methods offer an added benefit for food warehouses and production plants—less time and money spent handling live animals or disposing of dead ones.

Deterrents Options

Sonic pest control. These deterrents help keep food facilities free of animal-sourced health hazards and damages by transmitting audio signals that scare pest birds and keep them away. Some models work by emitting harassing bird distress calls and predator cries, like a hawk or eagle call.

Sonic pest control devices can target a range of birds or be designed to scare a specific species. These devices repel bats that might roost in warehouse nooks and crannies. Some sonic deterrents will also scare off other pest animals, including raccoons, foxes, and rodents.

Sonic pest devices offer a wide coverage area—with some systems like Bird-X’s Super BirdXPeller Pro covering up to six acres—making them ideal for large properties. They are often effective for controlling pests in remote outdoor areas. Because they’re designed for outdoor use, models may include heavy-duty, weatherproof enclosures to protect the devices from the elements. Generally, sonic repellents are easy to install and fully programmable for no-hassle use.

Ultrasonic bird control. These devices emit high-frequency soundwaves that are undetectable to the human ear but irritate, and even disorient, birds. This type of humane deterrent is non-species specific, allowing the devices to effectively repel many types of animals.

Despite the discomfort ultrasonic control triggers, these units don’t injure or kill the animals. This green pest control solution is typically easy to install and maintain. Because the ultrasonic sounds don’t penetrate solid objects, facilities may need to use an extension speaker to scare birds in difficult-to-reach areas.

This method is ideal for keeping pest birds out of enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces, including loading docks, warehouses, and factories. Ultrasonic deterrents can be used outdoors, but they generally work best in smaller areas. Since they produce a sound too high for humans to hear, they’re the perfect pest control option for areas where people gather, including employee cafeterias and workstations. They’re also non-obtrusive solutions to scaring pests away from guest-frequented areas.

Electronic bird deterrents. Electronic control produces a humane solution designed to disorient, irritate, or frighten pest birds, including pigeons, swallows, and starlings. Once installed, electronic bird control devices start work quickly to condition birds to think that an area is unsafe.

Some models incorporate strobe lights, which scare birds without creating additional noise. The lights also cast shadows that help frighten pest birds away in warehouses, production plants, or loading docks.

Another electronic bird deterrent employs laser technology. A unit fires lasers in colors that alarm birds. They interpret the laser as a threat and react the same way they would for other threats—they flee for safer areas. Since the lasers fire at random intervals, birds don’t become acclimated to them. Over time, pest birds become conditioned to avoid the treatment area entirely.

Laser pest deterrents are silent, so they won’t disrupt the auditory environment. Use laser control units day or night, in warehouses and production facilities as well as loading docks. Some laser options are designed for outdoor use and offer remote control access for easier control.

Additional Options

Protecting food facilities from pest invasions requires a dynamic approach in which deterrents work simultaneously to reinforce a multi-sensory message.

Visual scares and predator decoys. These approaches help boost the effectiveness of ultrasonic or sonic repellents when used simultaneously. Scare balloons, which are imprinted with predator-like eyes, are cost-effective deterrents that frighten birds by mimicking their natural predators. They’re ideal for outdoor areas, like orchards and parking lots, and require virtually no maintenance.

Realistic-looking decoys shaped like coyotes or owls can also be used in conjunction with other humane deterrents. Decoys may be detailed with natural-looking fur tails or flexible wings to increase their lifelike appearance. Utilize them in large outdoor areas frequented by geese, ducks, or small animals.

Bird spikes. Spikes provide an eco-friendly, maintenance-free humane solution. The spikes create a physical barrier that won’t harm birds. Install control spikes on ledges, rooftops, cornices, supports, or awnings to prevent birds from landing, nesting, and roosting.

Another physical barrier is bird netting. Some netting options are strong enough to keep out other pests as well, including skunks and raccoons. Bird netting comes in a variety of sizes, including those for commercial applications. Netting systems are highly effective, virtually maintenance free, and require no power supply. This solution works well for warehouses, ceilings, and facility perimeters.

Solar panel power. Panels don’t scare away pest birds and other animals, but they do make humane pest solutions more cost-effective. Invest in solar power panels to convert sunlight into energy that will operate a variety of electronic and sonic pest deterrents. These panels are a reliable option to power pest solutions in outdoor areas.


Humane solutions are one component of a complete pest control plan. They are the ideal complement to additional proactive pest control strategies, including consistent sanitation and inspection, elimination of nest sites, and drain access management.

By being proactive and investing in humane pest control options, food facilities can avoid a situation where an infestation harms customers, ruins audits, damages property, or contributes to a negative public image.


This article was written by Ellen Borza, a content developer for Bird-X.


See the original article on the Food Quality & Safety magazine website.